Try these natural solutions for stiffness, aches and pains

Stiff joints and muscles can be so painful and prevent us from doing the activities we love such as sport, gardening or even just walking. Painkillers might offer immediate relief, but they can lead to unwanted strain on the liver, kidney and heart function as well as blood circulation. So, I’d like to talk about how an anti-inflammatory diet with the helping hand of some food supplements can make a difference to your quality of life.

Chronic joint and muscle pain, along with inflammation, can leave us feeling drained, frustrated, and with low energy levels. Whether the problems stem from a sports injury, motor accident, poor posture, autoimmunity, hypermobility or simply from natural ageing, there are simple and effective evidence-based ways to help. Fortunately, Mother Nature provides numerous natural remedies that can help ease the discomfort. In this blog I will explore natural ways to address these issues offering you advice on dietary and lifestyle choices that can help you stay pain-free.

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Embrace the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, healthy fats, herbs and spices is not just delicious, but also a potent anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Research shows this diet can significantly reduce inflammation, often the root cause of chronic pain. Key components of the diet include:

  • Olive oil: A source of healthy fats which are high in antioxidants and have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Aim to have at least two tablespoons a day of extra virgin olive oil. 
  • Fish and seafood: Particularly oily fish, like salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and prawns which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, known for reducing inflammation and joint stiffness.
  • Eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables: These provide antioxidants that combat oxidative stress, a contributor to inflammation and pain. They also help to boost the gut microbiome that also plays a role in reducing inflammation.

Boost your vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health and regulating the immune system. It also acts as a natural steroid in the body. There’s a vitamin D receptor on every cell in the body, which is why you can feel inflamed all over when you are deficient. Low vitamin D is also linked to musculoskeletal pain and chronic inflammation. To ensure adequate levels:

  • Sun exposure: Spend 15-20 minutes in the sun several times a week to help your body synthesise vitamin D naturally.
  • Dietary sources: Include foods like organic whole milk, outdoor reared meat, oily fish, and eggs in your diet.
  • Supplements: Consider vitamin D supplements when the weather is grey and cloudy, especially during the winter months or if you have limited sun exposure.

Turmeric – the ‘golden spice’

Turmeric is renowned for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been shown to reduce pain and improve function in those with arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. Introduce turmeric to your daily routine by:

  • Adding it to food: Use turmeric in curries and soups.
  • Golden milk: Make a soothing drink with turmeric, milk and a dash of black pepper to enhance absorption.
  • Supplements: Top up with high-quality turmeric supplements with curcumin extract, to give you a more concentrated and convenient dose.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats with powerful anti-inflammatory effects that are particularly beneficial in reducing joint pain and stiffness associated with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Research has found that when compared, ibuprofen and omega-fatty acids demonstrated an equivalent effect in reducing arthritic pain.

Boost your intake with:

  • Oily Fish: Eat fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines at least twice a week.
  • Walnuts, chia seeds, hulled hemp seeds and flaxseeds: Add plant-based sources of omega-3s to smoothies, salads or yoghurt.
  • Supplements: Take fish oil or vegan marine algae oil supplements as a convenient way to ensure adequate omega-3 intake. There are now specialist anti-inflammatory omega supplements called specialised pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) that work deeper than standard fish oils to help alleviate chronic inflammation, especially when associated with autoimmunity.

Magnesium – the relaxation mineral

Magnesium is vital for muscle and nerve function, and a deficiency can lead to muscle cramps, spasms and chronic pain. Ensure sufficient magnesium levels through:

  • Magnesium-rich foods: Include leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate/cacao and whole grains in your diet.
  • Epsom salt baths: Soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts can help your body absorb magnesium through the skin, providing muscle relaxation and pain relief.
  • Supplements: Magnesium supplements can be beneficial, especially if you have difficulty meeting your daily need through diet alone.

PEA (Palmitoylethanolamide) – a natural pain reliever

Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is a naturally occurring endocannabinoid-like fatty acid that has shown promise in reducing chronic pain and inflammation as well as protecting the neurological system. PEA works by modulating the immune system and protecting nerve cells from damage. You can boost your PEA levels through:

  • Diet: PEA is found in small amounts in foods like egg yolk, peanuts and soya lecithin.
  • Supplements: PEA supplements are available and have been studied for their effectiveness in reducing pain from conditions like neuropathy and fibromyalgia.

Round up

It’s so frustrating and disheartening when pain affects your life and prevents you from enjoying activities you love doing. We all know instinctively it is not good or enough to rely on painkillers to push through the pain. However, by embracing a more holistic approach to pain management that includes an anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet and some food supplements, you can address stiffness, aches and pains naturally. These approaches not only ease discomfort but also benefit your overall health and vitality as chronic inflammation can affect mood and mind just as much as the joints and muscles.

It can take time to feel relief and sometimes the journey to pain-free living is more like a marathon, not a sprint. However, in time with some changes to your diet you will notice a difference, allowing you to enjoy a life with less pain and more joy.

If you feel you need more individual support managing your chronic pain and would like to run some tests to establish the root cause, then please get in touch with our NatureDoc clinical team

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